FOR someone used to winning championships in the PBA D-League, Hapee gunner Garvo Laneta considers the latest one against Cagayan Valley for the Aspirant’s Cup title the most difficult one.
Lanete, who played a crucial role in the five championships previously won by NLEX, swore the Fresh Fighters really had to go through the wringer against the Rising Suns to win the franchise’s first league crown.
Although they completed a two-game sweep of their opponent in the best-of-three series, the Fresh Fighters needed an extra period and had to survive a spate of injuries before pulling off a thrilling 93-91 win to clinch the title.
“Mas mahirap ‘yung ngayon kasi malakas ang kalaban namin,” admitted Lanete. “Nag-cramps na ako tapos si Troy (Rosario) na-sprain. Then, na-injured si Ray (Parks) sa start ng game. Kaya we were so glad na nag-step-up si Scottie (Thompson), Ola (Adeogun), at ‘yung iba pa.”
Lanete finished with a team-high 22 points, including 11 in the third period, for Hapee in the Game Two win and willed the Fresh Fighters to keep on playing following the exit of Parks due to a dislocated shoulder.
“Sabi ko lang sa sarili ko, I’ve been here before and my teammates are counting on me especially nung nawala si Ray. I have to lead them,” recalled the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart.
“Kinakausap ko sila isa-isa habang naglalaro kami. I motivated them to give their all. Dahil yari kami kapag nag-Game Three pa.”
Thompson tooks Lanete’s words to heart as he emerged hero of the game after stealing a pass off Moala Tautuaa and scoring on an unmolested layup to give Hapee the lead for good, 92-91, with 19 seconds left in overtime.
“We just trusted each other and stuck with the system and game plan. Defense won it for us once again. Na-prove naman nung huli with that steal ni Scottie,” said Lanete.
The shooting guard out of San Beda likewise credited coach Ronnie Magsanoc for adjusting well during the course of the game when Parks went out with a shoulder injury.
“Props din po kay coach Ronnie kasi even nawala yung number one player namin, nakapag-adjust siya sa game plan,” said Lanete.